ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwean farmers have been urged to venture into goat rearing at a time the country’s beef industry is constrained by recurring foot and mouth disease outbreaks.
The country’s beef exports especially to the lucrative European Union (EU) market have been curtailed by the frequent outbreaks of the disease, which is common in Zimbabwe and Botswana.
Zimbabwean goat producers should engage in world standard animal husbandry practices
ZimTrade, Zimbabwe’s exports promotion body said local farmers should take advantage of a lucrative market for goat meat in Asian countries and diversify from cattle ranching.
The global trade in goat meat has reached $372 million in the past seven years, a local newspaper reported.
According to statistics from Zimbabwe’s Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development ministry, there are about 136,000 goat breeders across the country, ranging from ordinary communal farmers to peri-urban breeders.
ZimTrade said the international market for goat meat had been on an upward trend as indicated by world imports, which increased by 140% over the past eight years (2007-2014).
World imports rose from $155 million to $372 million during the same period.
“Zimbabwe is currently not exporting any goat meat,” ZimTrade said in its latest newsletter. After restrictions on the export of Zimbabwean beef due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, goat meat could be an option for the resuscitation of the meat export business.
“Zimbabwean goat producers should engage in world standard animal husbandry practices, if they are to penetrate export markets”.
At the beginning of this year, the government distributed 10,000 goats for breeding stock and aims to increase the number goats in the country to 44 million by 2018. The country’s cattle population has declined from 6.8 million in 2000 to the current 5.2 million.
Figures indicate that in 2014, the top importers of goat meat included, UAE ($98 million), Saudi Arabia ($60 million), Bahrain ($33 million), Oman ($14 million) and Qatar ($14 million).
Goat breeding would rescue many farmers and ranchers in Zimbabwe who have lost a lot of their cattle to the unusually hot and dry weather.
Goats can survive on shrubs and need less manpower for tending to, making them a better choice than high-maintenance cattle, which are less tolerant of drought conditions.